top of page


Illustration of Martial Arts Systema Training

Systema Martial Arts In East York, Toronto

Systema [aka CNCTEMA] Russian Martial Arts] is a hand-to-hand fighting system presently in use by the Russian Armed Forces. Unlike traditional martial arts used for “sport,” Systema is military-based and current. The merits of learning Systema are immediately realized by the “every-day-man” when one learns the tactical advantages of an efficient military-based martial art.

Fight Club members for Systema Martial Arts In East York, Toronto

History of Russian

Martial Arts

The Russian style of martial art dates back to the 10th century. Throughout the history of this huge country, Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east, and west. All attackers brought their distinct styles of combat and weaponry.

The battles took place on different terrain, during freezing winters and sweltering summer heat alike, with the Russians often greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces. As a result of these factors, the Russian warriors acquired a style that combined strong spirit with extremely innovative and versatile tactics that were at the same time practical, deadly, and effective against any type of enemy under any circumstances.

The style was natural and free while having no strict rules, rigid structure, or limitations (except for moral ones). All tactics were based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths and characteristics, specifically designed for fast learning.

When the Communists came to power in 1917, they suppressed all national traditions. Those practicing the centuries-old style of martial art were severely punished. However, the authorities quickly realized the viability and potency of the Russian martial art and thus reserved it for the elite units of Spetsnaz.

Since the collapse of the Soviet system, many other Russian fighting styles have re-emerged through training, competition, and media publicity. Among others, the styles include Sambo (a wrestling style), Slaviano-Goretskaya Borba (StormWarrior Style), military-style of A. Kadochnikov, plus a variety of folk styles (e.g. Busa, Skobar, Forest Warrior, Kozachiy Sploch, fist fighting by Gruntovsky).

history of russian martial arts training

Philosophy of Systema Russian Martial Arts

There is a reason why Russian Martial Art is called THE SYSTEM (the Russian word is Systema). It is a complete set of concepts and training components that enhance one’s life. In this case, acquiring martial art skill is a way to improve the function of all seven physiological systems of the body and all three levels of human abilities the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual.

The key principle of the Russian System is non-destruction. The goal is to make sure that your training and your attitudes do no damage to the body or the psyche of you or your partners. The System is designed to create, build and strengthen your body, your psyche, your family and your country.

The System has another name “poznai sebia” or “Know Yourself”. What does it really mean to Understand Yourself? It is not just to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, that is good but fairly superficial. Training in Russian Martial Art is one of the sure ways to see the full extent of our limitations – to see how proud and weak we really are. The System allows us to gain the true strength of spirit that comes from humility and clarity in seeing the purpose of our life.

Woven into Systema is the belief is that everything that happens to us, good or bad, has only one ultimate purpose. That is to create the best possible conditions for each person to understand himself. Proper training in the Russian System observes this objective – to put every participant into the best possible setting for him to realize as much about himself as he is able to handle at any given moment.

One of Mikhail Ryabko’s words to the beginners is “Be a good person and everything else will come to you.” In a simple, yet comprehensive way The System helps you choose and follow the right path.


Mikhail Ryabko

Mikhail Ryabko

Colonel of the Special Operations Unit with the Russian Military, Director and Chief Instructor of Systema Headquarters, Moscow

Mikhail Ryabko was trained from the age of five and involved in combative training from the age of fifteen. He worked in militia in RF Ministry of Interior Security Department, trained the Minister’s security guards. He was a tactical commander of hostage-rescue teams, counter-terrorist operations, and armed criminal neutralization. Mikhail resides in Moscow, holds the rank of Colonel, and was an assistant to RF General Prosecutor. He is a veteran of military actions and a veteran of labour. He has been in numerous military campaigns and holds many medals and awards from the government and from the Russian Orthodox Church. He continues to train many students as the Master Teacher of Systema.

Vladimir Vasiliev

vladimir vasiliev

Director and Chief Instructor of Systema Headquarters, Toronto

Born in Russia, Vladimir Vasiliev received intense combative training and profound Systema training from Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia – Systema Headquarters. He has since personally trained and certified well over 600 qualified Russian martial art Systema instructors and schools in over 40 countries worldwide and has produced an Award-Winning instructional film collection. Vladimir holds a number of government medals and awards including the Russian “Order of Duty and Honor” and the “Order of Loyalty”. He offers regular training at his school in Toronto, at international seminars and camps, and through Systema video program.

bottom of page